Sunday, April 25, 2010

Invasion of the 3rd graders

There were moments today when I didn't think I'd make it through the day. At times, it was the ever-increasing chaos of 18 nine-year-olds in one place... and the a few times I was hoping for the ground to open and swallow me up. This is the biggest batch of kidlets I've hosted at once. Sent 20 invitations, figuring it would be the normal 5-10 that would RSVP. We had 17, plus my three children. Here's what I learned:

The work it takes to handle children's birthday parties increases at an alarming rate with each additional child... especially when you get into double digits. Look, I've made this handy-dandy, super scientific chart:

Choosing food was easy. Carrots & celery with ranch dip, apples, grapes, cookies & cream hershey's kisses, red and blue jugs of hawaiian punch, bottles of water, and... cupcakes.
The Alice in Wonderland theme made goody bags easy:
  • Reusable bottles, with "Drink Me" tags attached.
  • Containers filled with variety of Skittles (regular, sour & crazy core), with "Eat Me" tags. (Normally would have gone with M&Ms, but I was prepped for a child with peanut allergies.)
Activities were a little harder, as I wasn't sure until Saturday how many children were coming, or what my girl/boy mix would be. Plus, third graders are at a funny age. They consider themselves too old for many party games, but they don't want to just "hang out" like the big kids. I had a couple of things in reserve, but we ended up not needing backup, since there was a good bit of random running and flinging of water from bottles in between the three main planned games.
  • Croquet. Small group, while kids were still arriving, and most of the others were chasing down DD's big brother (he's such a great sport).
  • Balloon Pop - Tag. Tied balloons to everyone's ankles, and let them work out a strange boys vs. girls thing, which I never quite understood, since the prize went to the last person with an unpopped balloon. (This is the perfect game for that age, by the way. It combines two favorite activities - running and stomping balloons.)
  • Painting the Roses Red. In hindsight, I think I'd hand out red stickers if I did this again. If you placed bets on how long it would take the kids to start painting each other instead of the rosebush... well, let's just say it happened sooner than I expected.
I am so very glad we had the big party for DD's birthday, but I am even happier that she let me know she'd like a girl's-only thing with pizza, movies & pedicures next year. A sleepover such as she described will put us much lower on the chaos curve.

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